Rep. Chaffetz: ‘The Legal Immigration System is Broken’

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 18, 2017

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced an important new bill aimed at reducing asylum fraud. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, H.R. 391, would tighten the “credible fear” claim (of persecution in their home country) that asylum petitioners invariably use, but which is hard if not impossible for immigration officials to confirm.

Because “credible fear” is well known worldwide to be the magic phrase to gain admission to the United States, asylum requests have increased 130 percent from 2010 to 2014. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive action to grant parole, also known as catch and release, to anyone who claimed “credible fear” instead of, as the law requires, keeping them in custody while their cases are reviewed.

Once officials accept asylum requests, aliens are released into the general public, given employment authorization, welfare benefits and a date to appear in immigration court – an appointment they rarely keep.

New York Times calls asylum fraud in Chinatown ‘An Industry of Lies.’

A Government Accountability Office report released in late 2015 found that 90 percent of asylum petitions are approved, but only 30 percent are considered fraud-free. In her Wall Street Journal article, Miriam Jordan wrote that the American Immigration Lawyers Association has said that filing frivolous asylum claims to receive a work permit and several years residency in the U.S. is “widespread.”

In addition to tightening the credible fear standard, Rep. Chaffetz’s bill, a similar version of which passed the House Judiciary Committee in the last Congress, would, among other improvements, end catch and release at the border, mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services cooperate in the deportation process by advising the Department of Homeland Security where alien minors are housed, and slash foreign aid to nations like The Gambia, Vietnam and China that refuse to repatriate their aliens.

On his website, Rep. Chaffetz has this important insight that needs more congressional debate: “The legal immigration system is broken.”

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to reinforce the message to your representatives that not only should immigration laws be followed, but unsustainable legal immigration levels should be reduced.


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